Elias Canetti

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Elias Canetti
Elias Canetti 2.jpg
Born (1905-07-25)25 July 1905
Ruse, Bulgaria
Died 14 August 1994(1994-08-14) (aged 89)
Zürich, Switzerland
Occupation Novelist
Language German
Nationality Bulgarian, British
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Literature
1981
Spouse Veza Taubner-Calderon (1934-?)
Hera Buschor (m. 1971)

Elias Canetti (Bulgarian: Елиас Канети; 25 July 1905 – 14 August 1994) was a German language author, born in Bulgaria, and later a British citizen. He was a modernist novelist, playwright, memoirist, and non-fiction writer.[1] He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981, "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power".[2]

Life and work[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born to businessman Jacques Canetti and Mathilde née Arditti in Ruse, a city on the Danube in Bulgaria, Elias Canetti was the eldest of three sons.[3] His ancestors were Sephardi Jews who had been expelled from Spain in 1492. His paternal ancestors had settled in Ruse from Ottoman Adrianople.[3] The original family name was Cañete, named after Cañete, Cuenca, a village in Spain.

In Ruse, Elias' father and grandfather were successful merchants who operated out of a commercial building, which they had built in 1898.[4] Canetti's mother descended from one of the oldest Sephardi families in Bulgaria, Arditti, who were among the founders of the Ruse Jewish colony in the late 18th century. The Ardittis can be traced back to the 14th century, when they were court physicians and astronomers to the Aragonese royal court of Alfonso IV and Pedro IV. Before settling in Ruse, they had lived in Livorno in the 17th century.[5]

Elias Canetti's native house in Ruse, Bulgaria

Canetti spent his childhood years, from 1905 to 1911, in Ruse until the family moved to Manchester, England, where Canetti's father joined a business established by his wife's brothers. In 1912 his father died suddenly, and his mother moved with their children first to Lausanne, then Vienna in the same year. They lived in Vienna from the time Canetti was aged seven onwards. His mother insisted that he speak German, and taught it to him. By this time Canetti already spoke Ladino (his native language), Bulgarian, English and some French; the latter two he studied in the one year they were in Britain. Subsequently the family moved first (from 1916 to 1921) to Zürich and then (until 1924) to Frankfurt, where Canetti graduated from high school.

Canetti went back to Vienna in 1924 in order to study chemistry. However, his primary interests during his years in Vienna became philosophy and literature. Introduced into the literary circles of First-Republic-Vienna, he started writing. Politically leaning towards the left, he was present at the July Revolt of 1927 – he came near to the action accidentally, was most impressed by the burning of books (recalled frequently in his writings), and left the place quickly with his bicycle.[citation needed] He gained a degree in chemistry from the University of Vienna in 1929, but never worked as a chemist.

Canetti's tomb-stone in Zürich, Switzerland

Career[edit]

A highly awarded German language writer, Canetti won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981, "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power". He is known chiefly for his celebrated tetralogy of autobiographical memoirs of his childhood and of pre-Anschluss Vienna (Die Gerettete Zunge; Die Fackel im Ohr; Das Augenspiel; and Das Geheimherz der Uhr: Aufzeichnungen), for his modernist novel Auto-da-Fé (Die Blendung), and for Crowds and Power, a study of crowd behaviour as it manifests itself in human activities ranging from mob violence to religious congregations.

He died in Zürich in 1994.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Canetti Peak, Antarctica, named after Elias Canetti

In 1934 he married Veza (Venetiana) Taubner-Calderon (1897–1963) with whom he had a dynamic relationship. She acted as his muse and devoted literary assistant. Canetti however remained open to relationships with other women.

In 1938, after the Anschluss uniting Austria with Germany, Canetti moved to London where he became closely involved with the painter Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, who was to remain a close companion for many years to come. His name has also been linked with that of the author Iris Murdoch (see John Bayley's Iris, A Memoir of Iris Murdoch, where there are several references to an author, referred to as "the Dichter", who was a Nobel Laureate and whose works included Die Blendung [English title Auto-da-Fé]).

Canetti's wife died in 1963. His second marriage was to Hera Buschor (1933–1988), with whom he had a daughter, Johanna, in 1972.

Canetti's brother Jacques settled in Paris, where he championed a revival of French chanson.[7]

Despite being a German language writer, Canetti settled and stayed in Britain until the 1970s, receiving British citizenship in 1952. For his last 20 years, however, Canetti mostly lived in Zürich.

Honours and awards[edit]

Works[edit]

  • Komödie der Eitelkeit 1934 (The Comedy of Vanity)
  • Die Blendung 1935 (Auto-da-Fé, novel, tr.1946)
  • Die Befristeten 1956 (1956 premiere of the play in Oxford) (Their Days are Numbered)
  • Masse und Macht 1960 (Crowds and Power, study, tr. 1962, published in Hamburg)
  • Aufzeichnungen 1942 – 1948 (1965) (Sketches)
  • Die Stimmen von Marrakesch 1968 published by Hanser in Munich (The Voices of Marrakesh, travelogue, tr. 1978)
  • Der andere Prozess 1969 Kafkas Briefe an Felice (Kafka's Other Trial, tr. 1974).
  • Hitler nach Speer (Essay)
  • Die Provinz des Menschen Aufzeichnungen 1942 – 1972 (The Human Province, tr. 1978)
  • Der Ohrenzeuge. Fünfzig Charaktere 1974 ("Ear Witness: Fifty Characters", tr. 1979).
  • Das Gewissen der Worte 1975. Essays (The Conscience of Words)
  • Die Gerettete Zunge 1977 (The Tongue Set Free, memoir, tr. 1979 by Joachim Neugroschel)
  • Die Fackel im Ohr 1980 Lebensgeschichte 1921 – 1931 (The Torch in My Ear, memoir, tr. 1982)
  • Das Augenspiel 1985 Lebensgeschichte 1931 – 1937 (The Play of the Eyes, memoir, tr. 1990)
  • Das Geheimherz der Uhr: Aufzeichnungen 1987 (The Secret Heart of the Clock, tr. 1989)
  • Die Fliegenpein (The Agony of Flies, 1992)
  • Nachträge aus Hampstead (Notes from Hampstead, 1994)
  • The Voices of Marrakesh (published posthumously, Arion Press 2001, with photographs by Karl Bissinger and etchings by William T. Wiley )
  • Party im Blitz; Die englischen Jahre 2003 (Party in the Blitz, memoir, published posthumously, tr. 2005)
  • Aufzeichnungen für Marie-Louise (written 1942, compiled and published posthumously, 2005)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lorenz, Dagmar C.G. (2009). "Introduction". A Companion to the Works of Elias Canetti. p. 350. ISBN 978-080-578-276-9. 
  2. ^ nobelprize.org. "The Nobel Prize in Literature 1981". Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Lorenz, Dagmar C. G. (17 April 2004). "Elias Canetti". Literary Encyclopedia (The Literary Dictionary Company Limited). ISSN 1747-678X. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  4. ^ "The Canetti House – a forum for alternative culture". Internationale Elias Canetti Gesellschaft. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  5. ^ Angelova, Penka (2006). "Die Geburtsstadt von Elias Canetti". Elias Canetti: Der Ohrenzeuge des Jahrhunderts (in German). Internationale Elias-Canetti-Gesellschaft Rousse. 
  6. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica profile
  7. ^ The Nobel-winning German writer whose brother saved the French chanson. Artsjournal.com (2011-10-06). Retrieved on 2012-07-28.
  8. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 348. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "Hanser Verlag author page". Retrieved 12 November 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Lesley Brill, "Terrorism, Crowds and Power, and the Dogs of War," Anthropological Quarterly 76(1), Winter 2003: 87–94.
  • William Collins Donahue, The End of Modernism: Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-Fé (University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
  • William Collins Donahue and Julian Preece (eds), The Worlds of Elias Canetti: Centenary Essays (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007).
  • Antonello Lombardi, La scuola dell’ascolto. Oralità, suono e musica nell’opera di Elias Canetti, Ut Orpheus Edizioni, Bologna 2011, ISBN 978-88-8109-474-5
  • Roger Gentis, La folie Canetti, Paris: Maurice Nadeau, 1993
  • Morgan, Peter (2005) "Georges Kien and the 'Diagnosis of Delusion' in Elias Canetti's Die Blendung", Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism Volume 157. United States: Gale.
  • I. Parry, 'Attitudes to Power', in I. Parry, Speak Silence (1988), p. 253-277

External links[edit]